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The Coaching Dialogue: How Effective Managers Develop Their Teams

The best business managers know how to have conversations that improve the performance of their team.

If you’re underperforming at the office, what do you want your manager to do? Shuffle you aside? Or would you prefer to be sat down and offered help to get better at whatever is giving you difficulty?

Obviously, the second option sounds a lot better. But it’s not just better for you. Research shows that taking time to develop employees is also good for managers and the overall business.1 The most successful business managers often build that success by providing the kind of feedback employees need to improve their performance, which creates better teams capable of better results.

The Coaching Dialogue: How Effective Managers Develop Their Teams

If you want to go into or advance in a career in management, it’s useful to learn how to be a good coach for your team. And one of the keys to being a good coach is having productive coaching dialogues, also known as coaching conversations. Here are the basic steps of a good coaching dialogue:

Begin With a Purpose
Before you initiate a coaching dialogue with an employee on your team, you need a specific topic or problem to address. Leaving the conversation too broad can leave too little time to solve anything. If an employee initiates the conversation, help narrow the focus to the most pressing issue while agreeing to address other issues as well.

Speak With Clarity
When you’re coaching, you need to be clear—otherwise, you risk confusion and even misinterpretation. If you’re unhappy with an employee’s progress reports, make sure to communicate the exact problems you have and why those problems are, in fact, problems. Later in the dialogue, when you plan on next steps, make sure you and the employee fully understand and agree to what the expectations are and how any progress will be evaluated.

Listen Carefully
Don’t assume you know why an employee is underperforming. Take the time to listen to his or her perceptions and analysis of the situation. That way, you can better find the core of the problem.

Remain Empathetic
Employees may occasionally give you reasons for underperforming that you think are poor excuses. Or maybe they’ll disagree to a proposed solution for reasons that seem trivial or even immature. In these moments, you need to pause and consider why they may be feeling this way. Oftentimes, there is an underlying anxiety that may be holding them back. To adequately address that anxiety, you first have to avoid reacting disdainfully. Instead, react with empathy and a desire to help.

Cooperate on the Solution
When it comes to management, one size rarely fits all. Every employee is different, so every employee needs a unique method for improving performance. Don’t dictate what an employee should do. Instead, work together to find a solution he or she believes in and is willing to embrace in full. If you’ve stuck to the purpose of the coaching dialogue, communicated clearly, listened carefully, and remained empathetic, you’ll be in a great position to help your employee find the best solution.

How Else Can You Become a Better Business Manager?

Being a good coach is just one part of being a good business manager. You also need an advanced understanding of the principles of management and business. And the best way to gain that advanced understanding is to earn an advanced business degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA degree).

Being part of a top MBA program is like being in a management degree program and a business administration degree program simultaneously. But if that makes you think of slogging to class and sitting in lecture halls, think again. Thanks to online learning, many of the best business schools now provide the opportunity to complete your Master of Business Administration from home. And that’s not the only advantage to earning an MBA online. Most online MBA programs also give you the power to choose what time of day you attend class, which allows you to schedule your learning around your work and family commitments.

If you want to be a successful business manager, you’ll need to know how to lead a team. Thanks to online learning, you can earn a business administration master’s and gain valuable leadership skills.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,